J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
A Free Newsletter Covering the Latest Cool Stuff in Japan

Issue No. 37
Thursday, November 15, 2001

Name: Pioneer Pure Vision Select System
Category: AV
Price: (PDP-433HD-U and PDP-503HD) Open, but around 1.1 million yen
and 1.38 million yen, respectively.
Release date in Japan: Early November 2001

The Gist: One of the big trends in the consumer electronics industry
right now is the move toward more "lifestyle" products, the growing
realization amongst electronics manufacturers that people don't want
their gear to just perform well, but to look good too. Companies
like B&O or Bose have always followed this mantra, of course, but
nowadays the movement is becoming far more widespread in an attempt
to persuade punters to part with their money during a fairly severe
economic downturn. We've become more demanding and sophisticated, it
appears, when it comes to buying our new gadgets. It must be with
this in mind that Pioneer has launched its new lifestyle Web site
devoted to a type of do-it-yourself PDP (Plasma Display Panel). In a
four-step process, visitors to the site can configure their plasma
displays so that they match the furniture or other decor of the
room. It's simple:
1. Select the screen size
2. Choose the color
3. Choose between "standard" and "gloss"
4. Voila!
There are 36 colors to choose from, and the site also offers a 3D
representation of a room so users can virtually stroll around, look
at all the colors, and coordinate the walls with the new TV, et
cetera, and better visualize the results. Pioneer's initiative is
heralded by the arrival of the PDP-433HD-U, a 43-inch plasma display
and the PDP-503HD, a 50-inch model (having just spent a few hours
playing an XBox hooked up to one of these giants, I thoroughly
recommend you go for the larger model).

More info:

Name: Sony DST-BX800/ VRP-T1
Category: Digital TV
Price: Open (but DST-BX800 RRP is 75,000 yen, and the VRP-T1 is
120,000 yen)
Release date in Japan: (DST-BX500) December 1, 2001
(VRP-T1) December 15, 2001

The Gist: In the only country in the world that really seems to be
properly supporting and promoting hi-vision TV right now, Japanese
AV products that support digital TV are really starting to roll out.
Presenting us with a BS (satellite) digital tuner dubbed the
DST-BX800 and a separate, dedicated hard disk (VRP-T1) for the
recording of the programs received by the DST-BX800, Sony is one
company leading the charge and attempting to convince us all to make
the switch. The digital set-top box has IEEE1394 connections (no
mention of Wi-Fi, though) -- something it shares with the T1 and
Sony's sweet digital camcorder, the DCR-IP7 -- and digital optical
out for surround sound. The T1 hard disk drive has an 80 Gb capacity
and is capable of storing up to seven hours of high-quality digital
programming that you can find in a snap using the Electronic Program
Guide (EPG) and Sony's proprietary "MY Plus" channel and genre
selection feature. Of course, you still need to get yourself a
hi-vision-capable television set to connect all this up to, but
believe me, if you're a sports or movie fan at all, it's worth every

More info:

Name: Sony ERS-220
Category: Robot Pet
Price: 180,000 yen
Release date in Japan: November 23, 2001

The Gist: Man's best friend? More like T2's best friend. Looking
more like a guard dog for Arnie's next Terminator movie than a cute
robot pet this time around, Sony's latest Aibo, the ERS-220, is a
dog's dinner of flashy chrome and blinking lights that has
apparently been designed to present an image of the "near future."
Sony's Shoji Kawamori is the designer responsible for Aibo's scary,
new futuristic look. It's starting to get a bit confusing now, what
with four separate Aibo "Entertainment Robot" models available, so
to keep things simple, we'll just note that the ERS-220 is sort of
like the "flagship" Aibo, being the most expensive, the most
Japanese anime-inspired, and the only one users can actually control
remotely, using a PC and the optional LAN interface PC card (which
you stick into your K9 -- just don't ask where). With about 20 LED
lamps dotted over his face, tail, and back -- one of them called a
"retractable headlight" -- robot pet owners can now steer their Aibo
around the living room using the view from the 100,000-pixel CMOS
sensor in its head to navigate. The 220 can still do its autonomous
thang, if you'd rather it just potter around your house at will,
sniffing at stuff. There are all sorts of software and accessories
available now for the ERS Aibos, but by far the best, in my opinion,
is the ERS-220E1 Transform Kit, which, for the princely sum of
120,000 yen (available early December) provides new head, tail, and
leg units to allow ER210 Aibo owners to turn their superseded models
into the new 210 version.

More info:

Name: Pioneer PCR-PL20-D/L
Category: Gizmos
Price: Open (but come on, how much would YOU pay?!)
Release date in Japan: Mid-November 2001

The Gist: Touted as products that allow you "to relax and enjoy
music wherever and whenever you want," the PL20 duo are this week's
silliest entries into Gadget Watch, but potentially quite useful.
Inflatable pillows with speakers in them, basically, the "Music
Pillow Soft" come seven months after the company's last attempt at
such wonders, and this time feature a velvety "suede touch" for
extra warmth and comfort. They can be plugged into any portable
audio player without the need for an external power source or amp
and come in two colors in case you need to coordinate them with your
outfit -- the "D" model is orange, the "L" is blue.

More info:

1,288 subscribers as of November 15, 2001

Written by Max Everingham (
Editor: Bruce Rutledge (

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Copyright (C) 2001 Japan Inc Communications KK. All Rights Reserved.